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Brilliant Beale must conduct the orchestra with a touch of restraint

Sydney Morning Herald

Friday April 1, 2011


A week ago I expressed my disappointment at Tahs fans booing their team. I got many lively responses from committed fans. While not changing my views, I hope the same group of fans was, one week later, cheering their team to victory, especially as the second half became tense. To win against the Brumbies is one thing - to do it in Canberra is worth cheering about.The good news is that the Waratahs' style of play, and the resolve that the team showed in the second half, could lift them to top billing on the Australian conference. Tonight they have personnel changes, but they will feel rejuvenated striding down the tunnel of the SFS to do a job on a Chiefs team that can be brilliant but lacks consistency.Injuries sometimes give replacement players an opportunity they would not normally expect. Whether you get your start through good form or through someone else's misfortune, you have to make the most of it. Tonight provides a different opportunity to two of the Tahs regulars, Lachie Turner at No.15 and Kurtley Beale at No.10. Beale is having one of those amazing runs. Perhaps the moustache is Samson-like. His ability to see things from the back has been a revelation for Australian rugby.He will need to underplay his role tonight, to a degree, and let others around him make their mark on the game. His role at pivot will have some similarities but be slightly different to the fullback role. It will differ in the way he will have to guide the team around the park but it will be similar when the phase play evolves and will allow a sense of: "I'll have a go, boys, and follow me."That's where the fullback comes in. I imagine Turner has scope to turn up anywhere at any time in attack and this also means another option for the No.9 on phase play. Defence is easy when there is only one attacking option to cover. It is important Beale is not the only option as first receiver.For Turner tonight, there should be a simple mantra: when it is there to run, run; and when it is there to kick, kick - but do it smartly. The forwards like to see the ball travelling over their heads towards the opposition sideline.One thing that goes a long way in making the game easier for a five-eighth, though, is the delivery of the ball from the back of a scrum or a ruck. The four back-rowers - Mowen, Waugh, Palu and Burgess (I include Burgess here for the fact that he controlled the tight game well last week) - must know when to rumble up the field or when to release the No.10. What a No.10 doesn't want is the static ball. This equals dead ball and is the reason why teams have a mini restart to try to gain some momentum before shifting. They will have to deal with some big men in the Chiefs outfit such as captain Liam Messam and breakaway Tanerau Latimer. But a welcome sight tonight will be the return of Benn Robinson and crowd favourite Tatafu Polota-Nau.Two weeks ago the Tahs learned the hard way that any indication of not giving the opposition its due can bite you quickly. Tonight will be about being physical, and in their faces. I will be out there again as waterboy and hopefully my support will help get the Tahs across the line. I look forward to hearing you cheer.

© 2011 Sydney Morning Herald

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